August 24th: Upper Management

This might be the only organization where people can wear anything they want and still be judged on the caliber of their work and dedication.  Panties and bras, 4” platform boots, cornrows and corsets.  Vests with no shirts, ripped up clothes, filthy clothes, and all manner of hats.  Anything goes, as long as you do a good job.  And out here on the playa, it all looks perfectly typical.  Yesterday I was sitting at First Camp with a guy wearing a lingerie slip dress, zip ties in his hair, a beer cozy as a bracelet, and a radio on his hip.  I didn’t even notice until a friend of mine pointed out the utility of carrying around zip ties.

There was a Manager’s meeting this afternoon at the Depot, and I thought it might be interesting to recap it for you, so you could get a feel for the people involved and the things they have to keep track of.  It’s event stuff, but it’s tweaked for Burning Man:
* Playa names abound (I don’t know the real names of half the people I hang out with.)
* Most operations have to contend with extreme dust or heat
* There’s no existing infrastructure at all when we arrive
* Managers cuss regularly

Here’s the list of attendees:
Joe the Builder
Ghost Dancer
Canadian Bacon
Betty June
Jack Rabbit
Super Dave
Charlie Don’t Surf
Panties No Panties
Quiet Earp
Steel Toe
Camera Girl
Dave X
Reno Travis
George Bush
Sleep Dep
Game Show
Bubble Geek
Goat Man Dan
Ray Posado
Monkey Boy
Cowboy Carl

Here’s some of the things they talked about:

Bubble Geek brought new goggles for everyone, which was much appreciated. Hopefully it’ll work like washing your car and having it rain.  Now that we have the goggles, maybe it won’t be so windy.

Charlie Don’t Surf updated the group on completed projects at Arctica and First Camp.

Dave X talked about fuel.  838 gallons of gas consumed by DPW so far and 536 gallons of propane at the Commissary.  2710 gallons of biodiesel total, and 4094 gallons of gasoline.

Ludy said the lights and sound at the Man base and Pavillion are up and running.

Betty June told us that there are 282 registered art installations and that last year they had 100 walk-ins.

Canadian Bacon talked about the commissary.  Enforcement is an issue now that there are so many people working and volunteering.  We must have our laminates or pogs to go in and eat.  Only manager’s will be able to get ice for their crews now.  Then she brought up bacon.  Until this point, things had been going along quickly and smoothly, but the bacon discussion grinded the meeting to a greasy halt.  Today’s bacon was custom-fried, and she wanted to know if it was worth it because she got up at 4 in the morning to do it.  Suddenly everyone had plenty to say about the merits and disadvantages of custom cooked bacon, where just moments before they had seemed listless and disinterested.  I think they settled on a solution that involved the metal shop.

Hazmatt reminded us that only managers can use Black Rock Social Club now.  He cited several problems recently with people trying to use the facilities.  Marian chimed in by saying that the event only lasts eight days, and that people can live without it for that much time.  Game Show acted like that was news to him: “We’ve been doing all this for eight days?  Holy fuck!”  Everyone laughed.

Quiet Earp reported on shade: “We’ve got two more structures to do tomorrow, and we’re not going to do any fucking more.”

Someone asked about shade crew being on call in case of high winds or structural failure, and Marian responded by saying that that’s one of the amazing things about DPW and Burning Man.  If something happens, we have the ability and experience to mobilize.  She said we could rally 300 people in 15 minutes if we had to, and if there’s a problem, it will be handled quickly and professionally.

Panther started out by saying how phenomenal Chaos is.  Chaos is the heavy equipment dispatcher, and I can tell you Panther is right, Chaos does a great job.  There was actually a round of applause for him in his absence.  Panther is going to try and lighten Chaos’ load by fielding heavy equipment requests from artists and theme camps.

Jalapena told us that purchasing has now closed.

Big Daddy went rolling by the Depot at this point, on a huge Hyster going super fast and kicking up dust.  He earned a group cheer for this, and someone said: “You don’t get shit done going 5 mph.”  (Editor’s note: This does not pertain to you.)

Logan brought it all home: “I myself was out til 4 am and still made it to the morning meeting.”  Right on.


Today I searched for a place to work.  There’s no internet at my trailer and also no generator now.  I got a key from Playground for the West Wing at First Camp, which is totally cool, but the internet isn’t working in there.  So I went over to the Best Camp Ever Ever and plugged in to their power.  I got wireless internet for about 45 minutes, and then it went away.  I was able to write for a while, but it was super hot today, and the heat from the computer was killing my legs.  Plus it’s dusty.  It’s the playa, baby.

Off in the distance, Big Rig Jig is “suddenly” up.  The Temple is growing.

Tonight I took an art tour with my friend Debbie.  We started at Center Camp with her mural and went to see the monkeys at Homoroborous.  We stopped by the huge dome at 10:00 and saw some of the crane crew who had performed an equipment rescue there today when the camp’s rigging failed.  We made it over to the Trebuchet for Doyle’s birthday party.  Then we rode the Septocycle with Pete Menchetti and headed back toward town.  Fun fun fun.

-Wanda Power

About the author: Marnee Benson

Marnee Benson

Marnee is Burning Man Project’s Associate Director of Government Affairs. Her work focuses on permitting and relationships with the Nevada Legislature, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Pershing County, and multiple other Nevada agencies. She helps Burning Man navigate Nevada politics and federal issues affecting the Burning Man event. Marnee’s first trip to Black Rock City was 2001, and in 2007 she worked with the Department of Public Works and the Communications team, writing and photographing content for the Burning Blog “Building Black Rock City”. From 2009 to 2013, she served as the Deputy Director at Black Rock Solar. She loves the way Burning Man expands her world and flips ideas upside down.